….the way things should work

We find in our profession that people make things so much more complicated than they need to be. You ask most people how long it usually takes a company to fill a position, they will tell you, on average it should take 45 to 60 days. You know what the real average is… 180 days. So, you ask yourself why and the reasons are that nobody wants to really admit that they are terribly indecisive about hiring, don’t really know how to go about doing it, rely on opinions of others who might have hired someone once or twice, depend on people who really have no skin in the game, who really don’t care, internal recruiters, and other myriad of things that nobody will admit to, the biggest being procrastination and indecisiveness.

Most managers in companies are not really hired because of their ability to hire people. Controllers are hired because they are good at accounting and (assumed) good at managing accounting offices. Lots of managers get promoted in companies because they been around so long the leaders and companies are afraid if they don’t promote them, they’ll leave. (As though being at a place for a long time has anything to do with the ability to lead). Engineering managers are hired because they manage engineering departments. Think about it. Very few managers are hired because they know how to hire people really well. So, most managers just plain aren’t very good at it.

But every once in a while we run into someone who has a phenomenal amount of confidence in themselves and their ability. They have enough confidence in themselves to call us and say, “Look, I’m really good at running this company, but I need to hire a director of customer support. How should I go about doing it?” Instead of acting like he knew what he was doing when he really didn’t, as many hiring authorities do, he simply asked, “How should I go about doing this? “How refreshing!

He gave us the parameters of what he was looking for and was very gracious to give us every bit of detail that we asked for and needed. We told him that we would come up with seven or eight really good candidates and he could interview them Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. We sent him a bunch of resumes that he could look over or screen. He simply relied on us, based on our experience, to come up with the candidates that would be good.

Three of us went back into our files and discovered eight exceptional candidates, seven of whom had experience in exactly what the company did and the kind of experience that the president wanted. He interviewed four of those people on Wednesday afternoon and four more on Thursday morning. He called Thursday afternoon and said that the next Monday and Tuesday (this last week) he wanted three of the people back to talk to four of his managers. He brought two of these people back last Wednesday for three hours each and one of them back on Thursday for three hours. He said he was going to give us a call Monday and tell us the person that all of the managers and himself thought would be the best candidate, bring them back in on Tuesday and get them hired. If that person doesn’t take the job he was comfortable with the fact that one of the others was capable of doing the job also. He spent Friday checking everyone’s references and we expect to hear from him this Monday.

Now this guy’s organization is really good. All of the managers, four of them including the president, had been with the company for a very long time, they had a lot of confidence in themselves and, most importantly, they were all reading from the same page. Nobody had a big ego. Nobody felt politically inclined to get his or her way. Every candidate commented about how congruent all of the managers were. Everyone was real down to earth, knew what each one of their roles was and made every candidate feel welcomed and, most importantly fairly interviewed. We can’t tell you how much of a difference this kind of group of people makes in the interviewing process. Most hiring processes get derailed because different people in the interviewing process want to put their egotistical imprimatur on the hire. This may not come as a shock, but my estimate is that at least 45% to 50% of the time interviewing managers barely communicate with each other about what they ought to be looking for. These guys were totally different.

Hiring people, especially managers, is like bench pressing 500 pounds…it is hard but it’s really simple. And we do the hard part. There is no reason to believe that the rest of this won’t go as simple as it has up until now. Every one of the candidates would like the opportunity for the job. They are all extremely qualified and it’s going to be a difficult decision for the president. But it will be simple.

I started my 47th year of this profession last month. On many days I feel like an absolute rookie. The longer I do it the more I learn. But I’ve never really understood why most organizations can’t keep hiring this simple. Kudos to our client!

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